Positive Periwinkle: Is the Spring 2010 Real Estate Market in Grand Rapids MI Encouraging You?

Positive periwinkle

Well, the numbers for the first couple of months of the year 2010 are in.  And there’s more good news than many anticipated in Grand Rapids, MI.  Although, there was some lethargy in the overall US market, Grand Rapids, MI has continued to buck the downwards trend in some significant areas.

If you’re a homeowner, you should be know that 2010 has started off in a good way.  There has been a 13.4% increase in overall homes sales so far (from 759 in the same period in 2009 to 861 today- January figures) and the average Sales Price is trending significantly higher…TODAY at $106,409 vs $95, 182 – January stats.  These numbers trend even better for February with average Sales price of $111,457. If you EXEMPT Short Sale and Foreclosure activity, those numbers jump closer to the $140,000 range!

So you’re probably thinking…What’s going on with Distress Sales?  Well,while  they do continue to exert a significant dampening trend on the Grand Rapids, MI market place.  It is worth noting that the percentage of Short Sales declined from just over 57% of total sales volume in January to 50% in February.

This is an important number to track, because it is a foreshadowing of the true health of the marketplace.  There are still troubling indicators in the larger economic sphere as jobs continue to be an issue in Michigan.  I think two additional issues are also in play here and may make it difficult to get an accurate grip of the true state of affairs.  The expansion of the Home Buyer Tax Credit last year to include a larger number of potential buyers until April 30, 2010 and the fact that mortgage rates continue to be exceptionally low but are expected to increase in the latter part of the year.  On the positive side… many banks have finally figured out how to systematize the Short Sale process and are streamlining the approval path relatively speaking.  Hopefully, this will help drain the pipeline of excessive inventory a little more quickly.

Another indicator you might find interesting is this:  the Median Price increased from a middling $60,000 – $62,000 to almost $80,000 in February 2010.  In the luxury market, we’re also seeing signs of encouraging activity.  Many homes in the $400,000 + range were especially hit hard with losses in the past year.

Last year, approximately 80 homes Sold in this Price Range (over $400,000).  However, just since January, there have been 11 homes Sold in Grand Rapids, MI over the $400,000 price mark! If you’ve been wondering about the possibility of selling an Executive level home, it may be time to get ahead of the curve and take a fresh look at your prospects. Audu Real Estate is available to provide an extensive analysis of the market including strategic advice in positioning your home advantageously.  Contact us at 616-791-0511.

In case you’re curious…here’s some interesting information about periwinkle. 🙂

picture courtesy of Franco Folini

Real Estate Distress Sales ~Are There Signs of Level Off in the Grand Rapids, MI Short Sale Market?

Market TemperatureIt’s been almost 2 years since the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors began keeping close tabs on the upswing in the sale records for foreclosures and short sales.

Back in  July of 2007, real estate agents were becoming increasingly nervous about short sale and foreclosure sales which were absorbing about 25% of all sales and almost 18% of the dollar volume.  For a market which had NEVER seen those numbers however over 5%, this was a disturbing trend.

Few could have imagined what the numbers would climb to 18 months later when short sales and foreclosures for the month of January 2009 were just below 70% (68.60%) and accounted for 2 out of every 3  sales!

Since that dramatic peak, there seems to have been a levelling off.   From a slight decrease to 67.75 in February, the numbers have continued to drop.  The past several months, the percentage of homes sold in the Grand Rapids, Mi area which have been designated as short sale or foreclosurse has hovered around the 50% mark.

BUT, more importantly, the dollar percentage of these types of sales has dropped dramatically.  Distress sales now account for approximately 40-35% of the total sales volume.  In addition, we are witnessing substantial increases in total homes sold from the same period of time 12 months ago.

For instance, in June of 2009 a total of 624 homes sold versus 452 in June of 2008.  One of the most dramatic rises occurred in March of 2009 when there were 700 homes sold…almost DOUBLE  the number of homes sold in March of 2008 (436 homes sold in 3/2008).

All these signs are welcome in a market which has witnessed a period of time in which 10 homes a day are being foreclosed in Kent County according to a recent report studying these trends.

While we may not be totally out of the woods yet, I am thankful to see this shift continue. I will continue to keep you updated.  Visit my blog for regular updates on the Grand Rapids, MI real estate housing market situation.

Copyright 2009  Audu Real Estate All Rights Reserved

Spring 2009 Market Update…Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate Trends Upward

Spring in Grand Rapids MichiganIf the beginning of the year 2009 was somewhat tepid for real estate sales in Grand Rapids, Michigan…things changed in March.  March roared in with numbers which had many in the real estate community chattering with delight.

Activity increased with home buyers sending sales into an upward spiral which eclipsed the same period of time in March of 2008 by 19.46%!  For agents on the ground working with home buyers, this translated into multiple offers or Sold signs on many desirable properties.

In addition, although foreclosures and short sales continued to depress pricing, the overall number of homes for sale was down by 12.8% (10,301 active listings in 2008 vs 8,982 in 2009) and the inventory racks (also known as the absorption rate) decreased from 12.69 months of housing inventory to 9.26 months.

For home sellers, the bottom line view still hurts to look at.  In March of 2008, the average single family home was $120,000, this year it’s about $100,000…a whopping 20% drop!  Ouch!

So what’s the best course of action if you’re in the real estate market of 2009.  Well, it depends on which side of the market you’re putting a stake in the ground for.

Buyers…

If you’re buying a home, the combination of record low prices, great interest rates, good inventory and the tax credit make a very strong case taking a good look at your options, doing your research and acting responsibly and decisively.  Nothing lasts forever…this perfect storm won’t either.

Sellers…

If you’re selling your home, step back and take a birds eye view of your surroundings.  You might be surprised by how much competition is surrounding your dwelling.  Study the numbers intently.  This starts by ordering an appraisal or commissioning a well prepared Comparative Market Analysis by a seasoned real estate professional.

Be realistic; you’re probably not going to make a ‘killing’ in the profit department, but if you play your cards right, you don’t have to get taken to the cleaners either.  Homes which are priced right are selling.  It’s just that the term ‘priced right’ is a moving target.

If you’d like a more detailed analysis of your specific neighborhood, contact me at info@auduhomes.com.  It’s important to note that the stats for every neighborhood in Grand Rapids, MI and the surrounding areas are unique.  This is not about a one size fits all approach.

Copyright 2009  Audu Real Estate  All Rights Reserved

Grand Rapids, MI January 2009 Real Estate Market Update

Winter 2009 Market Update

Winter 2009 Market Update

It seems that 2009 is whizzing by even faster than 2008!  It’s amazing to think that Valentines Day Celebrations will soon be around the corner as the world pauses to give a ‘little love.’

A little love would certainly be welcomed by home owners in the Grand Rapids, MI area who need to sell their homes.   2008 was not a kind year for many who lost their homes as foreclosure and short sale rates as a percentage of homes sold climbed upwards of 70% at the end of year and the average home price for a home in Grand Rapids, MI dipped below $100,000.

January of 2009 reflects the ongoing economic malaise which has plagued the nation.  Foreclosure/short sales rates as a percentage of home sales stayed pretty even…just upwards of 71% but the good news was that more homes were sold.  Although, this is to be expected as we shift towards a traditional spring market…tradition is not something which has been descriptive of real estate activity within the past couple of years. 

While home sale numbers are still low, we continue to note a levelling off of homes on the market.  Observers should still keep an eye on the number of foreclosures as recent indicators from sources who track industry numbers like Real Trac indicate that up to 70% of the nation’s inventory of foreclosures is yet to be listed.

A hopeful sign on the horizon is the proposed stimulus of up to $15,000 for home buyers which is winding it’s way through the chamber of commerce.  This along with lower interest rates may spur some buyers who remain on the sidelines into action.  It remains to be seen…

Related Articles:

Foreclosures Drag Down Listing Stock in Grand Rapids, MI

Watch CBS video about unlisted foreclosures

5 Important Grand Rapids MI Real Estate Trends

*This post was written at the beginning of the year. (2008)  Looking back at the trends that I thought we needed to watch, it’s interesting to review and look back on how these trends worked themselves through the year.

fall1The past 24 months have witnessed some of the most significant Trend Shifts in the real estate marketplace in Grand Rapids, Michigan. These shifts have occurred because of a variety of factors which have ranged from economic issues to emerging new technology. Here’s a list of Five Important Real Estate Trends to watch.

1.  Absorption Rates

There has been a significant increase in homes for sale in the Grand Rapids area.  Today, there are almost twice as many homes on the market as there were 4 years ago.  What’s most important about this trend is the Absorption Rate. This rate is calculated by determining how many months it would take to sell ALL the current homes at the Current Rate of Sales. 

For instance if there are 12,000 homes For Sale and 1,000 Homes Sell in January of 2008, the Absorption Rate is 12 or 12 months. Watch to see if this rate increases.  If the Absorption Rate for homes in Grand Rapids, Michigan increases inspite of tremendous mortgage incentives, this indicates further weakening in the real estate market. 

UPDATE:  Inventory of Grand Rapids, MI homes have reduced to approximately 10,250+ by the end of the year, but the number of homes sold has also declined.  Our absorption rate still hovers around 11-12 months.

2.  Increase in On-Line Activity!

Grand Rapids, Michigan mirrored the rest of the country in shifting towards the Internet for information about housing trends and statistics. Home searches through the Grand Rapids real estate board continued to rise and the Board also launched a new website through which real estate agents will be able to do very detailed statistical analysis for their clients. 

Blogging about real estate took off in it’s initial stages and many agents started detailing their expertise through a variety of blogging platforms.  About 240 Grand Rapids real estate agents established profiles on the Active Rain networking platform alone. This trend will continue in 2008. 

Keep watch on several players who are in the marketplace to determine who has the most comprehensive real estate database for Grand Rapids, Michigan. Those which are currently in the forefront include the Grand Rapids Real Estate Board MLS, Zillow.com, Trulia.com and Google

2.   Monitor the Foreclosures Rate

In recent history, few can remember any time in which there have been so many homes foreclosed on in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. Last year, the real estate board tasked an advisory panel with taking a critical look at the situation and making recommendations.  As a result, Grand Rapids real estate agents had the opportunity to receive additional training about the foreclosure and short sale process. 

In addition the real estate board linked homeowners to resources to prevent foreclosures and made an addendum available to homebuyers regarding what to expect when purchasing a home in a short sale or foreclosure situation.

The numbers to watch in this category is a Report which details the percentage of Sales on the Grand Rapids Real Estate Multiple Listing Service that are Foreclosure or Real Estate related.  As of last year December 2007 and January 2008, those percentages are 40% and over 50% in January 2008.  Another number to watch which is not yet being formally tracked is the number of Vacant Homes which are For Sale or Abandoned.  An increase in these numbers will further dampen home prices.

UPDATE:  Foreclosure rates soar to 60% by the end of the year.

4.  Rental of Homes.

Five years ago, home rentals of single family homes were almost non-existent on the Grand Rapids multiple listing service. in 2007, hundreds of home owners offered lease with option to purchase or a land contract to help shore up funds while waiting for a home to sell or the housing market in Grand Rapids to turn around.

Watch the rental rates of homes with respect to both the number of homes for rent and the type of home. For instance, a significant increase in rental options for homes in the mid to upper price ranges would indicate further weakness in the market. However, if home rentals decrease, this would be a very good sign.

UPDATE:  The number of lease/rental listings on the multiple listing service  have increased by year end.

5.  The Disappearing Real Estate Agent…

If you cannot find your real estate agent, this may indicate that they have left the industry.  The first place to look is on-line.  If your real estate agent cannot be located on the Internet, it is unlikely that their home listings can either.  A profound shift is occurring in how real estate is acquired and the Internet is at the forefront of this revolution. 

Watch to see how technology is adapted by individual agents and companies with regards to presentation of homes, providing service options to clients, responding to inquires and facilitating transaction management online.

UPDATE:  There has been a decline in agents involved in the business.  Since a high of 3,500, the number of real estate agents associated with the real estate board has dropped well below it’s peak.

Copyright 2008  Audu Real Estate  All Rights Reserved

The Secret Behind Multiple Offers for Home Sales in 2008~ Grand Rapids, MI Fall Market Update

Buy

Buy

I’ve been watching the statistics for Foreclosures and Short Sales in the Grand Rapids, MI area pretty closely since the real estate board began to track the numbers in 2007. 

 Recently, there have been some trends that I initially felt were alarming. 

September and October sales numbers have seemed to mirror the wild roller coaster ride that we have witnessed on Wall Street in recent days.

In September, the percentage of homes sold in distress as either Foreclosures or Short Sales jumped to almost 52% and represented almost 41% of the Total Dollar Volume of Home Sales for the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors.

The numbers didn’t get prettier in October, 2008.  At the last check, the percentage of homes sold in distress is now at almost 62% and represents almost 45% of the total dollar volume which by the way was 33 Million dollars less in September than the recorded sales volume in August.

But, in the midst of these seemingly dire numbers, I am witnessing an amazing phenomenon.  It’s the RISE of Multiple Offers on properties.  Yes, it’s true that many homes are simply sitting there with absolutely NO activity…often for months or years.  But, there are several homes that our agents have Sold recently and homes that our Buyer Clients have made bids on which had MULTIPLE OFFERS.  In some cases as many as 3 or 4!

What’s going on? 

Well, here’s my take.  I think that much of the inventory on the market right now in Grand Rapids, MI is over-priced.  By this, I am referring to the pricing that the Market has dictated it is willing to pay for the product which in this case is a home.  Over-pricing is a phenomenon which can be brutal to witness if you are a homeowner who needs a certain dollar amount from a home right now.  In this market, needs are simply not the criteria which govern the sale.

Best Value Deals…

Today’s home sales are primarily Best Value Deals.  Homes that are priced competitively and where home owners have equity will Sell.  Homes that are in distress will Sell.  Homes that are Bargain Basement Deals will Sell.  This is NOT the market for everyone, and home owners should recognize that the total volume of dollars that I mentioned before indicates that home prices are still dropping overall.

However, I think that we’re starting to scrape the bottom.  The projections nationwide indicate that there will be about a Million homes in Foreclosure and for Sale by the end of the year.  The good news is that the number of Foreclosure/Short Sale homes in the Grand Rapids area actually have stabilized and seem to be trending downward.  We have to Sell the excess inventory of these homes for the market to stablize, so this is a very good thing.

In Summary…

In light of this, looking at the increase in the number of distress sales takes on a different perspective.  As more of these homes move out, there will be fewer bargains and prices should gradually begin to increase.  I’ll continue to watch the trends and report back to you the latest in the Grand Rapids real estate market place.

This is a great time to buy for many reasons.  If you’d like to talk more about investing in real estate or enhancing your portfolio, please contact us @ info@auduhomes.com

Grand Rapids Real Estate Market Mid-Summer Update

Grand Rapids, MI Summer on the patio deck

Grand Rapids, MI Summer on the patio deck

Well, it looks like 2008 is so far shaping up to be a better year for Sold Homes Statistics than 2007 was.  This is significant given the news that has inundated the national news about the decrease in units sold.  For the past 7 months in Grand Rapids, Michigan, every single 30 day period with the exception of 2 months saw an increase in the number of units sold from the previous year.

Inventory levels still remain historically high with an average of 12-13 months of inventory in most areas.  The home prices are still significantly lower due to the foreclosure and short sales that continue to comprise a large segment of home sale transfers.  For the past 60 days, the percentage of home sales which were short sales have hovered around the 44% mark.  The continuing drop from a high of almost 50% at the end of last year may herald a bottoming out of the market.

For agents at Audu Real Estate , it has been a busy summer.  We are working with a number of qualified home buyers who are actively searching for properties.  Several of our listings are receiving numerous showings, although we do note that buyers are looking at far more home before arriving at a purchasing decision.

My advise for homeowners is to make sure that this is a market that you’re really ready to do battle in.  It’s still quite a challenge out there.  This is not the time to put your home on the market to ‘test the waters’ or to simply see just how much you can get.  Serious contenders for the rapidly diminishing pool of buyers will be prepared to do what it takes to market a home successfully.

This will involve a well developed Internet Strategy that places your home on the google search index results on page 1 and a pricing strategy that hits the bulls eye on the first try or first price reduction.  The research to determine the correct price is far more intensive than what was necessary in the past.  If you’d like a comprehensive review of your specific home or neighborhood situation, please contact us at:  616-791-0511.

Copyright  2008 Audu Real Estate  All Rights Reserved